Southeast
Human remains were unearthed after heavy beach erosion caused by Hurricane Nicole near Chastain Beach on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, on Hutchinson Island in Martin County. "There's an old Indian burial site here behind us, it seems as these larger storms come through it tends to unearth some amazing Florida and Indian history here in Florida," said Chief Deputy John Budensiek. "The bones are fragmented so there's a lot of small pieces of bones, right now we're at six human skulls." Contributed photo by Dakota Brady

FL - Skulls are emerging on a Florida beach after Hurricane Nicole. Officials think it could be a Native American burial ground

HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Fla. — The bones stuck out of the sand.Dakota Brady, 30, said he was with some friends at Chastain Beach in southeast Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole when they discovered human remains.

“It was just surreal. Just to think that this is something that we walk on on a daily basis and nobody knows. Everybody’s oblivious to it," Brady said.

Authorities learned of the remains soon after.

Investigators are examining what they said are likely human remains of the indigenous Ais tribe on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island along the Atlantic about 50 miles north of the West Palm Beach area.

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The remains are likely from an Ais burial ground, said Chief Deputy John Budensiek.

Budensiek said investigators found six human skulls as of Thursday afternoon. The bones are fragmented, so they don’t have a total count of remains.

It was the first time Brady had an experience like this.

“We know that this is a burial ground. We know what we’re on, but we never seen them come out like that," he said. "Yes, it’s a public beach, but there’s history to it and now you see it.”

This isn't the first time a hurricane unearthed Native American human remains.

“This actually is a site we’ve been to before,” Budensiek said.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused beach erosion that unearthed ancient Native American bones that were first exposed by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, according to TCPalm archives.

Officials a decade ago said the remains were reburied with a proper ceremony.

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